Any digital marketer can tell you that email is a powerful medium for connecting with both new and old customers. Most businesses understand the importance of promotional emails, sales offers, newsletters, and other types of emails sent to thousands of subscribers at a time. However, many fail to leverage transactional emails—those which are sent out one at a time only after the subscriber has performed a specific action.
It’s important not to neglect individual transactional emails. Plus, with automation, it becomes easier than ever to send triggered messages and save time while still interacting with the customer. Let’s explore the importance of transactional emails and go over some best practices for implementing them in your email marketing strategy.
What are transactional emails?
Transactional emails are sent in response to a specific event, interaction, or request made by a customer. These emails are best used to communicate necessary information to the customer at a critical moment in the customer journey. Some are not requested by the customer but are automatically triggered, while others are emails requested by the client in response to an action.
For example, you can send out transactional emails to deliver:
Password reset links
Customer service support request confirmations
Order confirmations and receipts
A popular use of transactional emails is sending a post-purchase automated email to help engage and retain buyers while also providing them with important order information. It shows customers that you are following up, not simply losing interest or moving to the next potential customer as soon as they make a purchase.
Risks of delayed transactional emails
It’s important to keep in mind that a failure to properly implement transactional emails can have a negative impact on your customer relationships. Since these emails are sent when a customer requests particular info, it's likely that they are waiting for those emails, so waiting more than five minutes for a transactional email is almost always unacceptable.
Slow transactional emails can cost your business. Your customer wants to reset the password they forgot, learn the status of their support request, or verify you received the payment they made. If this information isn't provided to them within minutes, they'll make assumptions about your services that will hurt your business in the long run.
Getting the most out of transactional emails
To avoid the risks of transactional email failures, here are some guidelines that can help enhance the effectiveness of your transactional emails:
Use authentic, unique meta info
The meta information of your email forms the first impression of your business. A recipient might open, ignore, or mark it as spam based on the information you provide through the address, subject, and header text.
If your email address doesn't match your brand name, the recipient will question its authenticity. So, be sure to include the name of your domain or business in your address. For instance, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Try to avoid "no-reply" email addresses when possible, as they give the impression that you are only interested in talking and not listening to your subscribers.
Finally, make sure the subject line is concise and clear to convey the purpose of the email and prompt the recipient to open it. Hiring a content writer with advertising experience can help improve your email copy, which could also improve your email open rate and overall customer experience.
Keep promotional emails separate
Promotional emails aren't urgent because the recipient isn't expecting them, so it won't be a problem even if they are delayed. Transactional emails should be a top priority when it comes to customer emails, as they are urgent and need to reach the recipient immediately.
Promotional emails often are marked as spam or automatically moved to a promotional folder separate from the user's inbox. Sending your transactional emails from the same service as your promotional emails can affect the deliverability of your transactional emails too. Using separate services to send transactional emails and promotional emails can help ensure your all-important transactional emails are delivered on time to your customers and won't be mistakenly sent to the spam folder.
While most services on the market allow users to send both marketing and transactional emails, you can boost your deliverability by exclusively sending transactional emails from a dedicated transactional email service.
To ensure your transactional emails are kept separate from promotional emails, you should:
Assign separate IP addresses for promotional and transactional emails.
Don't use the same domain or subdomain names for both types of email.
Use different servers to send out promotional and transactional emails to prevent throughput and blacklisting issues.
Pay attention to authentication and security
Use email authentication methods to ensure your emails won't be rejected or end up in the spam folder. Authentication is also an important aspect of enhancing the security of your communications and data.
The Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an authentication method that works well with transactional emails. This email authentication method detects falsification of the sender's address during the process of the email's delivery. The DNS record specifies the IP addresses and servers authorized to send emails using that particular domain.
Another effective method is DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), which focuses on detecting sender addresses that may be fake or fraudulent. Similar to SPF, this TXT record is added to the DNS record and allows the email recipient to check if the domain owner has indeed authorized the email. Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC) is another option. It protects both the sender and recipient from email spoofing since your DMARC will not receive any email if it fails SPF and DKIM checks.
Finally, when transactional emails are part of your payment process, pay special attention to maintaining PCI compliance to reduce the risk of a data breach, avoid fines, protect customers, and improve your brand's reputation.
Design for your brand
You want your customers to trust your business and the transactional emails you send them. One aspect of building that trust is maintaining a cohesive voice and look.
Thus, you should brand your emails like all other marketing communications. Use the same tone, colors, and language to reflect your brand, making it more recognizable and trustworthy. Also, consider how your domain name impacts your brand reception and what impressions you are giving with your emails.
Write for your customers
Your transactional emails should always have a definite purpose. They should appropriately convey why a user has received your email, what they need to do with that information, and how they can proceed.
Also, be wary of certain communication styles in automated emails. For example, humor can come across well in person but still fall flat or even be misinterpreted in text. Be sure to communicate with cultural intelligence in every interaction, even a few-line automatic email.
Provide a way to reply
As we mentioned earlier, recipients often do not like "no-reply" email addresses. If you send an email from such an address, it might raise red flags.
You should try to always provide your users with a way to reply to your emails if they have questions or need additional help with their order or issue. Seeing that they will be heard if they need help makes them feel more comfortable doing business with you.
Boost engagement with social media links
While you may not be explicitly promotional in a transactional email, it's still possible to subtly guide your email recipients to other avenues of engagement. For example, use social media icons and links to direct people to your business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok. Let your email be a reminder that your brand is active across multiple online communities, and let them know how they can interact with you there.
Be responsive across devices
People read emails on smartphones, tablets, and laptops of all types and sizes, and your transactional email should display correctly on all of them. This is an important aspect of enhancing the user experience because if your recipients can't read or interact with your emails on their mobile device, they'll exit the email or even delete it.
Offer a plain text version
It's always good to give your subscribers a chance to receive plain text emails instead of your image-filled versions. This will improve both the delivery and accessibility of your email. One thing you need to ensure while creating the plain text version is that there shouldn't be too much variation between the text and HTML content.
Monitor delivery and open rates
Once the transactional emails have been sent, your work has only begun. Now it's time to monitor their performance using an email analytics tool that lets you track and monitor metrics.
If your delivery or open rates drop, there might be something wrong. It's time to improve your campaign to ensure satisfactory delivery and open rates. Otherwise, your emails will end up in the spam folder or just be ignored.
Pick a reliable provider
There are many transactional email providers out there, so be sure to research your options carefully to choose one that suits your needs and delivers the quality you expect within your budget. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of every transactional email provider you're interested in to determine the right option for you. If you haven’t used Zoho ZeptoMail yet, you can get started for free now!
Succeeding with transactional emails
During the pandemic, customer expectations for quality and support have actually gone up. Sending out transactional emails plays an integral part in your customer service and engagement. You can take control of your image and ensure that your recipients have the best possible experience with your service by thinking critically about your email use and choosing a strong transactional email tool to help improve your customer relationships.
About the author:
Gary Stevens is the CTO of Hosting Canada, a website that provides expert reviews on hosting services and helps readers build online businesses and blogs. He is also a full-time blockchain geek, a front-end developer, a volunteer working for the Ethereum Foundation, and an active Github contributor.